Protein week: role of nutrition and protein in fitness, immunity and quality of life
Dr Geeta Dharmatti
There is no doubt that nutrition plays a vital role in a healthier and happier life. This year’s pandemic has made everyone aware of the importance of working on nutrition and good immunity. Data on Covid infections and its association with health have shown its closer relationship with nutrient deficiencies, lifestyle-related illnesses, and higher rate of infections. It’s time to understand the close association of nutrition with quality of life.
The quality of life is achieved with a general well-being in relation to their value, their environment, the cultural and social context in which they live and food has an important role to play in this process.
We are related to food in many ways besides food and satiety. It is a part of the celebration, the festivals and the emotions. Malnutrition is either a lack of access to healthy food or excessive access to food. These are the two sides of the above and below nutrition. Overnutrition compromises our quality of life with many health problems. Protein-energy malnutrition is an undernutrition that must be seriously studied to solve nutritional problems.
Nutrition in a holistic way should be seen as a balanced diet which has been divided into 6 food groups. – Macros like carbohydrates, proteins, fats and microphones like vitamins, minerals and water. Tools such as the Eat Well Plate, the Food Pyramid, etc. help us learn healthy eating habits. Nutrition literacy is important for everyone to work for good health. Good health is a holistic approach to a good quality of life.
Energy is vital for all people to maintain good health and well-being. Nutrition is essential for providing energy. This energetic body must work on the internal needs of the body and on cellular health for good immunity. Energy foods are starches, grains, sugars and fats. These should be consumed according to the energy needs of our body. They also spare protein for muscle building and other body cell functions.
As for proteins, they constitute an important part of our diet and an important constituent contributing to our quality of life. Protein requirements vary with age, gender, weight, and physical activity. Protein requirements increase under special conditions such as pregnancy and breastfeeding. During illness and convalescence, protein requirements increase. The average requirement of a healthy adult is 0.83 g of protein per kg of body weight per day. For example, if the body weight of a sedentary or moderately active person is 70kgs, he / she will need 58-60g of protein per day on average. If a person exercises, exercises, or plays intensively, they need more protein. Protein requirements also increase during pregnancy and lactation as well as in growing children. When a person is sick, they need more protein to cope with the disease and to recover.
Protein is very important for many vital functions of the body. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. There are 9 essential amino acids. These amino acids must be provided by the diet. It is important to have good quality proteins which provide all the essential amino acids. Indian diets have a culturally wonderful blend of foods that compensates for the limiting amino acid and provides good quality protein. For the best balanced ratio of protein in the diet, it is said to have a 3: 2.5: 1 ratio of Cereals: Protein: Milk protein for vegetarians. We should aim for at least 50% of our needs for good quality protein which contains all essential amino acids like animal protein (dairy, non-vegetable, eggs and supplements with PDCAAS 1). PDCAAS (Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score) is the protein that contains all the essential amino acids in the required amounts. Each of us should check if our diet contains 50% of our animal protein requirements. Likewise, the combination of proteins should be encouraged in our diet for Ex: Idli + Sambar / Rice with dal / Moong dal khichidi / Curd rice / Curd Paratha. These combinations should be encouraged in quantities equal to those of cereals.
These quality proteins help strengthen the immune system and support overall health and well-being. Physical activity has its benefits for health and well-being. The body needs all kinds of exercise like endurance, strength training, cardio, and flexibility for good physical shape. Exercise should be paired with good protein and good nutrition for best results. Maintaining a good muscle / fat ratio is also essential for quality of life. Good nutrition with good calorie control and good protein intake according to exercise for injury prevention and fitness.
Today’s world must work on a good quality of life for the general well-being of the population. Quality of life means not only the absence of disease, but also good physical and mental health and an overall positive impact on health.
(Dr. Geeta Dharmatti is a Consultant Nutritionist and Registered Dietitian. The opinions expressed are personal)